ERIC Number: ED187623
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Apr
Reference Count: 0
On the Limits of Contemporary Moral Education: Psychological and Sociological Perspectives.
Leming, James S.
The paper explores reasons for the failure of contemporary approaches to moral education and suggests an alternative based on theories of prosocial behavior. Prosocial behavior comprises actions intended to aid another person or group of people without the actors' anticipation of external rewards. Cultural and social factors appear to be most directly linked with prosocial behavior; that is, such behavior is likely to be learned as the child experiences models, expectations, and reinforcement. However, assumptions of current moral education approaches tend to ignore the cultural and social factors. These programs (values clarification, cognitive development, and rational analysis) emphasize the development of decision-making and reasoning skills and independence and autonomy. Lack of specific moral content and of student evaluation also characterizes current practices. An alternative approach is based on Durkheim's (1975) view that the goal of moral education is to develop the elements of morality: discipline, attachment to groups, and autonomy (a self-chosen sense of the good and one's duty). Implications are that a criterion for recruitment should be based on personal characteristics which make a potential teacher a significant role model, the school atmosphere should involve group orientation, and the curriculum should stress that there are certain givens concerning moral life. Problems relevant to this approach should also be examined: indoctrination, cultural relativism, and moral conflict. (Author/KC)
Descriptors: Behavior Theories, Cultural Influences, Developmental Stages, Educational Needs, Educational Objectives, Educational Practices, Elementary Secondary Education, Ethical Instruction, School Role, Social Influences, Social Studies, Socialization, Teacher Role, Values Clarification, Values Education
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April, 1980).